COLUMN: Tips for promoting home safety for older Oklahomans | news

Home Sweet Home. That’s where people feel most comfortable. However, as Oklahomans age, their homes may need modification to ensure the safety of residents.

Aging in place really goes beyond just aging — it could also be a person simply struggling to get around. This is particularly important in rural areas where assisted living is not available.

Some projects that can increase the safety factor can take as little as a few hours, while others may involve a contractor.

One way to make the home more livable and safer for older residents is to install grab bars in high-risk areas where slips or falls are more likely.

Even a little water on a tile or linoleum bathroom floor can be dangerous. Soapy water can also make bathtubs and showers slippery. If there is enough space, consider using a shower seat. In conjunction with a hand shower, this ensures more stability when bathing.

Other options include installing a grab bar near the toilet for people who may have trouble sitting and getting up, and installing another grab bar near the bed for similar reasons.

When installing grab bars, make sure they screw into wall studs, not just drywall. These latches are inexpensive and can be found at local hardware stores or ordered online from a variety of specialty stores.

Outside ramps can be useful beyond the mobility needs of wheelchairs. Even for people who are on their feet, steps can be quite a challenge.

Those with mobility issues may have difficulty lifting their legs to negotiate the porch steps. A ramp makes it easier to enter and exit the house. Keep in mind that the ramps will also need railings or handrails. Another thing to consider is a threshold ramp for doorways to allow for a smooth transition from one room to the next.

Other home improvement tips that can help with aging include: replacing round door knobs with lever handles, installing a bathroom heater/lamp for seniors who have achy joints or body thermoregulation issues, updating the flooring, and being aware that carpet can be a major culprit for trips and falls. Also, it is easier to maneuver a wheelchair on solid ground.

Other ideas include: adding bright lighting and solid railings on each side of a staircase or stairlift, installing a rotating turntable or lazy susan in a cabinet to keep contents organized and easily accessible, adding a kitchen island or prep table at a convenient height , add wall hooks to make things easier to reach, and install pull-out shelves that are easier to access than closets that need to be crouched or hunched over.

Just a few changes can help your loved ones stay longer in their homes, where they are happiest.

If you are interested in enrolling in a Family and Consumer Sciences program, contact Heather Winn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator at OSU Cooperative Extension Service, by phone at 918-456-6163 or email heather.winn@okstate in Cherokee County .edu.

Heather Winn is the Family and Consumer Sciences Educator at OSU Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.


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